The Boot Camp Experience

Part of the Hunter College boot camp experience for the young WAVES was learning what it mean to be in the Navy. And that meant restrictions, as WAVE Virginia Gillmore remembered:

The hard adjustment was the way they treated a few people.  One of the really hard things was the fact that if we kept our hair off our collar that was the requirement.  And that if you did your hair up, your long hair up and kept it off your collar you’d be ok.  But one cold morning they mustered us outside our apartment house outside in the street — that means they lined us all up — or we lined up.  And they went behind all the girls with long hair and they pulled their bobbie pins or whatever was holding their hair up out and let their hair fall down, and then took scissors and clipped their hair off.  And these girls had been told they wouldn’t have to have their hair cut.  There was almost mutiny that morning.  None of us thought it was fair. Because the regulation was just keep your hair up off your collar.  But we all kept quiet.  So it was a little fear that I didn’t think was entire necessary in our training.  But I suppose we all have to go through something.

All in all, boot camp was a good, positive experience.  We felt lots of support from the instructors, as a whole group.  But we did have to toe the line.

This photograph comes from the National Archives.

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